A leader in the House says Governor Nixon is the key to whether the special legislative session that begins today proves successful.

House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, a Republican from Perryville, goes into the special session optimistic.

“You know, we’re optimistic we can get something done, but it’s certainly not a done deal,” Tilley tells the Missourinet.

This is a classic compromise in the making. The Senate wants to overhaul the state worker pension system. The House wants incentives to retain jobs at the Ford Claycomo plant in Kansas City. Neither is excited about the other’s bill.

Tilley says Nixon holds the key to pushing pension reform in the House.

“The key is that if this is such a good thing, he should be able to convince the members of his own party to do it,” Tilley says of Governor Nixon.

Republicans hold the majority in the House. So far, they have been lukewarm to the Senate’s pension bill. There are 74 Democrats in the House. Tilley wants to see strong support from House Democrats before he works fellow Republicans.

“If the governor and the governor’s staff can sit down and work with Democratic House members and deliver 40 to 42 votes, I think the House Republicans can do the rest,” Tilley says. It takes 82 votes for a measure to pass in the House.

It can be done he says, despite resistance in the House to the Senate pension bill.

“I’m still very optimistic that it can. I just think that we need some leadership from the governor to convince House Democrats to support it, which they haven’t been willing to do that in the past,” Tilley says.

The special session that begins at noon will pick up where the regular session left off. A proposed compromise for the House to pass the pension bill in exchange for the Senate approving the incentives for auto manufacturers faltered on the last day of the session and fell apart in the last hour. The House never took up the pension bill for debate. Tilley says the pension bill proved too big a proposed change for the House to take up and approve as the pressure increased in the waning hours of the session.

House and Senate negotiators have been meeting prior to this special session to craft a compromise. It will become apparent next week whether they succeeded.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP]